Saturday, 11 July 2009

Collector Cards: the saga of Gudrun and Ackermanns Schlüsselgarn

In Germany, collector cards were quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Liebig, Stollwerck, Reemtsma and many other companies issued their goods together with collectible cards hoping to generate a collector's passion and thusly increase their sales.
Later on they even started to sell albums in order to help the enthusiastic collectors to store the precious cards for later pleasure. Although Liebig never attempted to issue cards of great artistic value, companies like Stollwerck actually strifed for a modern and qualitative art that represented their future oriented company policy. Same goes for the collector cards of "Ackermanns Schlüsselgarn", a company specialised on sewing cotton .

In the first decade of the 20th century they issued a series of cards telling the German saga of Gudrun, depicted in twelve Art-Nouveau-images by Fritz Schoen, a Berlin illustrater born in 1871.
Gudrun, a Middle High German epic, tells the tragic romance of Herwig, king of Seeland, and Gudrun, the daughter of Hettel and Hilde. Gudrun is carried off by Hartmuth, king of Normandy, and her kinsfolk are defeated in a great battle on the island of Wulpensand off the Dutch coast. Gudrun, now prisoner in the Norman castle, refuses to become the wife of her captor, and is condemned to do the most menial work of the household. Thirteen years later, Herwig and her brother Ortwin find her washing clothes by the sea; on the following day they attack and besiege the Norman castle with their army and, finally, Herwig marries Gudrun.

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